What Is a Utility Billing Analysis & Why Should my School District Conduct One?

A utility billing analysis is a comprehensive review of utility bills to identify supply-side savings’ potential and understand the factors affecting energy costs. Understanding the information contained within utility bills, as well as trends found in the last 12 months or more from utility bills help school districts identify factors contributing to higher costs and drive them into retreat, explains Facility Executive. Facility Managers need to understand the benefits of a utility billing analysis and a few best practices for conduction and using the information gained.

Benefits of a Thorough Utility Billing Analysis

The immediate benefits of a thorough utility billing analysis are that the outcome of the billing analysis helps schools identify failed or failing equipment and energy-saving opportunities. In other words, conduction of the utility bill analysis provides a measure of the health of the current energy management program and its successes, notes David Cosaboon via FacilitiesNet. Additional benefits of such analysis include:

  • Identification of average versus expected utility costs. Data analysis of anticipated versus actual utility costs provides a quick way to forecast future energy costs.

  • Review of rates set and used by utility service providers. Depending on the type of utility, rates may vary by building size, age, overall condition, and location. The billing analysis ensures the utility company uses the correct rate.

  • Establishing an energy savings’ profile. The energy savings profile acts as a fast-track means of lowering energy costs, which aids Facility Managers in making energy-influencing decisions.

  • Determining which buildings use the most energy. Knowing which buildings use the most energy enables prioritization of energy-efficiency improvements and changes in energy use behaviors to reduce spend.

  • Auditing of bills to locate possible errors. Utility companies may make mistakes in the utility bill, and an energy billing analysis audits bills for errors, allowing schools to recapture unnecessary expenses.

  • Defining when usage or significant anomalies occur. Weather is the most influential factor in driving fluctuations in the utility bills, so consideration of weather-related factors improves the ability to forecast savings' potential through improvements.

Best Practices for Conducting a Utility Billing Analysis

There are a few things school Facilities Managers should do to conduct a thorough utility billing analysis, including:

  • Review estimated bills. Estimated bills are a rarity, and all occasions of estimated bills should be reviewed to identify why they were estimated and what the actual energy use should have been.

  • Ensure rates and units of measure are correctly used. Utility companies may make mistakes in generating bills, and even if errors are not made, understanding the rates and units of measure used for each company, such as 1,000-gallons billed for water or rates per kilowatt-hour for electricity, helps staff understand how changing energy use habits may affect savings.

  • Avoid data confusion from same-use values appearing in different locations in the utility bills. Depending on the utility, same-use values may recur throughout the bill, and it is essential to recognize their implications for each area. For instance, base charges versus overage or peak charges.

  • Verify your load factor for the electric utility. The load factor is a seasonal value that affects the price of electricity per kilowatt-hour, and if it remains unchanged, your district could be overpaying for electricity.

  • Recognize your options and eligibility for better rates and incentive programs. The analysis should also provide a review of incentives and opportunities available to lower energy costs.

How to Use Information From the Utility Billing Analysis to Develop Your School's Energy Management Program

School districts should follow these steps to use information from the analysis to reduce energy use.

  1. Develop a maintenance checklist, based on insights from the utility billing analysis.

  2. Prioritize energy monitoring and management programs to reduce highest-cost utility bills.

  3. Consider retro-commissioning of assets with continuous-monitoring systems, such as smart sensors, controls and sub-load metering.

  4. Study savings’ potential energy-efficient lighting upgrades.

  5. Take advantage of on-site renewable energy resources, mainly daylight.

  6. Encourage efficient water use and changes in energy use behaviors among students and faculty.

Conduct Your Utility Billing Analysis

The utility billing analysis is the simplest and least invasive way to review the successes and failures of energy-efficiency improvements, including energy-conservative use behaviors and their potential impact. Depending on the size of your school, a utility billing analysis can be a vast venture, so consider working with a third-party, such as Cenergistic, to conduct your analysis. Contact Cenergistic online to get started.


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